Westley: West Ham youngsters can be cheered to final
- Credit: Archant
Hammers academy manager hopes large crowd at Rush Green helps team overcome Liverpool on Wednesday
West Ham academy manager Terry Westley hopes a packed Rush Green can cheer the club’s development squad on in their Under-21 Premier League Cup semi-final against Liverpool on Wednesday (7pm).
Hammers are looking to book a spot in the two-legged final against Huddersfield Town or Hull City, which will be shown live on BT Sport.
Entry to the game at the club’s academy site on Rush Green Road is free, and Westley hopes that leads to a good crowd that can inspire the youngsters to success.
“Against Blackburn Rovers in the previous round, we had close to 2,000 and there was a nice atmosphere around the ground,” he said.
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“The players need to feel like it’s a different type of game, it’s not just a training match.
“They have to feel that edge of it being a semi-final and have to handle it. They have to deal with the manager (Slaven Bilic) in the crowd or any of the directors who will come and watch, so it is different.
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“The amount of first-team managers of other clubs that have requested tickets for the game already, because they want to see what the teams have, will give a
different feel to it.
“The more people that come to see our young players on show can only help us. We’re expecting a crowd of 2,000-plus, so it is an advantage.”
The match on Wednesday will be the second big cup tie for the Hammers this week, with the senior squad having played out a 1-1 draw away to Manchester United in the FA Cup on Sunday.
Like their senior counterparts, the youngsters will be fully aware of what’s at stake having made it to the final four of the competition.
And Westley knows that adds more pressure to the game, adding he is aware that it is no ordinary under-21 fixture against the Reds.
“Normally the case when you play under-21 football, you focus on making sure the development of the player is right or the characteristics of the game are right,” he added.
“This game is a little different, it’s a chance to get into a televised final against one of the best academy’s and best first teams in the country. It’s a game you want to win, so some of the outcome is about winning.
“We won’t win sacrificing our principles of how we want to play, dominating the ball and asking the players to play in a style which we have done for most of the season, but there is that added edge to it.
“It’s about trying to win a semi-final and getting through to, in the end, win the cup. This is the big game if you look at the draw. Liverpool was the big tie and I think we’ll get a good crowd. It will be a really good atmosphere and a very technical, talented game with some very good players on show.”